It is beginning to look as though Mike Ross will prevail in the fight over health care. A vision of Mike Ross sweeping all before him may inflate the people of the Fourth Congressional District; it's pretty chilling for the rest of us.
The suddenly celebrated South Arkansas congressman has been telling everybody who'll listen that he and his fellow Blue Dog Democrats will never support a public option as a part of health-care reform. That, in other words, the Blue Dogs can be relied on to do what the insurance companies ask of them — like the Republican Party, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the right-wing hysterics of cable television. A sordid bunch (once there were honorable Republicans, but only the elderly can remember them), they've persisted in their obstinacy to the point that President Obama has hinted at willingness to abandon the idea of health insurance that would be sold by the government in competition with private insurers.
This is more surrender than compromise. The administration has already given way on the reform that's really needed, single-payer health care. Take away the government option, and there'll be not much reform left at all. Insurance companies will make more money, suffering Americans will keep suffering, the Mike Rosses may realize some political benefit. The fight will have been hardly worth the candle.
Former Supreme Court Justice David Souter supported the separation of church and state. His successor, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, will be tested soon.
A case now before the Court deals with the question of whether a cross is a suitable war memorial for all American veterans — including Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and non-believers — and therefore legally permissible for display in a national park. The Religious Right says it is. The unbigoted community says it's not. (For what it's worth, non-Christian veterans are more than a handful. According to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 29 percent of American service members on active duty say they are not Christians.)
In 1934, the Veterans of Foreign Wars erected a permanent cross on public land in the Mojave National Preserve in California, saying it honored the “Dead of All Wars.” Easter services have been held at the cross since 1935. In 1999, the National Park Service denied a request to erect a Buddhist shrine near the cross.
The Religious Right hopes that the Supreme Court will use the case (Salazar v. Buono) to begin the dismantlement of the constitutional wall of separation between church and state. America as we know it is at stake here.